Ongoing Projects

Nickels and Dimes

Dime novels were a format of inexpensive popular literature produced in the United States from 1860 through 1915. An antecedent to the pulp magazine, comic book, and mass market paperback, they contain some of America's earliest popular fiction, including Westerns, detective novels, romance fiction, and even proto-sci-fi. Nickels and Dimes contains more than 2,000 dime novels digitized from NIU's Albert Johannsen and Edward T. LeBlanc collections. The first phase of this project began in 2013, with the seminal Beadle's Dime Novels, and subsequent phases have focused on Nick Carter Weekly, Pluck and Luck, Fame and Fortune Weekly, Wide Awake Library, and Waverlely Library. In 2017, NIU and Villanova University were awarded a Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources to completely digitize the Johannsen Collection. The Johannsen Project began in 2017 and will culminate with a symposium at NIU in 2019.

NIUDL aggregates contents from Nickels and Dimes. For more information and additional resources not available here, please visit the project homepage at:

Southeast Asia Digital Library

In 2005, the US Department of Education's Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access (TICFIA) program awarded a four-year, $780,000 grant to a consortium of institutions from around the world to create the Southeast Asia Digital Library. The grant was administered by Northern Illinois University (NIU) Libraries, which also housed and maintained the digital library. A consortium of institutions represented by librarians from the Committee on Research Materials on Southeast Asia (CORMOSEA) and faculty from participating institutions acted as an advisory committee to guide the digital library from its inception. Work on the library commenced at NIU Libraries and around the world in October 2005 to provide free access to archives of textual, still image, sound, and video resources, covering both historical and current information from the region. Over the four years of the grant, the Southeast Asia Digital Library supported eight constituent content projects at partner institutions in the US and Southeast Asia. In 2009, the Southeast Asia Digital Library received a second round of funding from the TICFIA program, supporting the development of nine new initiatives.

NIUDL aggregates contents from the Southeast Asia Digital Library. For more information and additional resources not available here, please visit the project homepage at:

Lee Schreiner Sheet Music Collection

Lee Schreiner (Rockford, IL) donated a large portion of his sheet music collection--several thousand pieces--to Rare Books and Special Collections in 2014. Music in the collection covers much of the early 20th century, with coverage especially strong during World War I (1914-1918). Because most Americans either had access to pianos or watched performers at music halls, sheet music is an ideal medium for studying popular and visual culture. Pieces in this collection reflects popular opinion about the war, as well as the changing status of women and minorities.

Regional History Center and University Archives

Contains digitized materials from significant collections in the Regional History Center and University Archives, including all of the Norther yearbooks, as well as items from the W.W. Embree Collection, the Postcard Collection, Woodbury-Forsythe Diaries, Vanderhoof Family Papers, Spring Creek United Church of Christ, Taylor Farm Records, Sons of Norway Valhall Lodge No. 168 Records, LeRoy Community Grange No. 1873 Records, and the Grant Army of the Republic Records (Mendota). Acquisitions level: active

Completed Projects


Lincoln/Net is the product of the Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project. Based at Northern Illinois University, the Lincoln Project worked with a number of Illinois institutions, including the University of Chicago, the Newberry Library, the Chicago Historical Society, Illinois State University, the Illinois State Archives, Lewis University, and Knox College. Collaborating institutions have contributed historical materials, including books, manuscripts, images, maps and other resources, including Northern Illinois University, Illinois State Library, Newberry Library, Chicago Historical Society, Lewish University Library, University of Chicago Library, Illinois State University Library, Illinois State Archives, Knox College Library, and Northwestern University Library. The Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project was funded by the Illinois State Library, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Illinois HUmanities Council, the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the DeKalb County Community Foundation, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, ESRI, and the Ruth McCormick Tankersley Charitable Trust.

Mark Twain's Mississippi

Mark Twain made the Mississippi Valley in the nineteenth century an integral part of American historical memory and mythology in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), and Life on the Mississippi (1883). This project provides a fully searchable and indexed digital library of primary source materials, including Twain's celebrated Mississippi works themselves, collected text materials include his known correspondence from the period that he trained and served as a river pilot (from the collections of the Mark Twain's Papers Project at the University of California, Berkeley), as well as steamboat passengers' travel narratives and accounts and descriptions of individual cities, plantations, and other notable sites along the Mississippi. These materials were drawn from the collections of Northern Illinois University Libraries, The Newberry Library, the St. Louis Mercantile Library, and Tulane University Libraries. The Mark Twain's Mississippi Project was generously funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

American Archives

Beginning in 1837, the printer Peter Force, who also served as mayor of Washington, D.C., devoted sixteen years to collecting thousands of pamphlets, booklets, and newspaper articles pertaining to the "Origin, Settlement, and Progress of the Colonies in North America" from the Revolutionary Era in order to preserve them for future generations. He published them in a set of nine large volumes that he called the American Archives. By the late twentieth century Force's collection of materials from the years 1774-6 had become a valuable scholarly resource, as it contained the only surviving copies of many important documents. But while a number of large research libraries around the world held the American Archives in their collections, it remained an underused resource. Scholars and students alike struggled with Force's unwieldy index and complicated organization of the materials. In 2001, Northern Illinois University Libraries and Professor Allan Kulikoff of the University of Georgia received grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the digitization of the American Archives. This project allow its users to use sophisticated search and indexing software to explore Force's volumes. Professor Kulikoff has also produced a thematic indexing scheme describing the contents of every individual text in the American Archives collection. Together, these tools will offer scholars, students, and lifetime learners with unprecedented new access to these important primary source materials from American history.